When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
~ John 19:30
It is finished. We’re over. I’m done. Goodbye.
Endings bring to most of us a tumult of emotions:
sometimes a deep sense of relief and a welcome anticipation of something new, something better to come;
sometimes hopelessness, despair, the crippling cries of a broken-heart as we have to let go of someone or something that we long to hold on to;
sometimes numbness and disbelief at what we have come through and an aimless, empty wondering about where we should go next;
sometimes a sense of victory and accomplishment, of soaring confidence at what we can do when we put our minds and our hearts and our resources into a goal or a project.
Jesus’ last words on the cross are so final.
So sudden given the hours of unending agony that he has endured since the anguish of the garden in which he so fervently prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
It is finished.
There is a temptation for us to read into those three little words our own emotion at endings: It is finished! Jesus is triumphant! He’s done it! Sin and death have no power over the world any more! He has accomplished what the Father sent him to do!
It is finished. Thank God it’s over. The pain. The suffering. The abandonment by friend and Father. I don’t know if I would have been able to endure such torture. And if I’m absolutely honest, I’m glad I don’t have to watch what he was going through anymore.
It is finished. He’s dead. He’s gone and we don’t know how to carry on. He meant everything to us: he called us, he taught us, he loved us. He gave our lives a sense of meaning and purpose but he’s been killed, murdered, annihilated and we don’t know what to do or where to go.
It is finished.
Where does that leave the remarkable story of God-with-us? What does it mean for us as we try to make sense of the endings within our own lives?
Luke’s Gospel, fortunately, leaves us with a more complete conclusion.
Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
~ Luke 23:44-46
The ending is the same: this chapter in the Christ-story is complete; his suffering is over; his mission of mercy and reconciliation fulfilled but the primary emotion at the end is not one of victory nor relief, nor brokenness nor disbelief.
It is trust.
Trust in God to turn the page and begin the next chapter; to play God’s part in the fulfillment of the promise. Resurrection has not happened but in this moment hope has dawned as Jesus lays himself to rest within the Father’s hands.
It is an amazing moment given those heart-wrenching words that broke free from thirsty lips about an hour before: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“
It is finished; the sense of being alone, of being lost in the darkness and the depravity of human sin.
In the final hour, with his final breath, Jesus lays his past, his present, his future into the hands of the One he was always trusted, whose love is certain: his Father.
It is finished. May this become your final word today. The sin that holds you, the hurt you hold onto, the anxiety about your future, the parts of your story that need to come to an end, the desire for revenge or success that drives you, the dark depression from loved ones you have lost, the disbelief and doubt that has gained a foothold at unanswered prayer, the whole unpredictable tumult of human life, the feelings of forsakenness and wondering about where God is in the midst of your circumstances – let them be finished as you commend your life into God’s hands trusting in the sufficiency of God’s love for this day and tomorrow.